This is March.
While my brain doesn't necessarily consider the First Four part of the NCAA Tournament, the fact of the matter is that the games will feature two teams from different conferences. The loser goes home, and the winner advances.
That's NCAA Tournament enough to garner my attention.
- D.J. Carton wins a high school dunk contest.
- Corey Smith Jr. was arrested on Saturday for several warrants including aggravated robbery.
- Can Parris Campbell use his pro day to vault him into the first round?
- Demetrius Knox will be limited, but present at Ohio State's pro day.
- How pro prospects predict NCAA Tournament success.
- Chris Holtmann took the Bucks to the NCAA Tournament during a rebuilding year.
- TOURNAMENT CHALLENGE: Enter our challenge to win some signed stuff and free gear.
Word of the Day: Logy.
NEW YORK STILL MAKES SENSE. Most NFL prognosticators are now insisting that Dwayne Haskins isn't going to be a New York Giant. While that may still be true, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com isn't changing his stance that New York is the best fit for the Buckeye gunslinger.
Team fit: New York Giants
I know there's been reporting that the Giants haven't been doing their homework on Haskins, but I don't know how they can justify escaping the top 10 in the draft two years in a row without identifying and selecting a future replacement for Eli Manning, no matter what nice things GM Dave Gettleman says about him. I love Saquon Barkley, but I believe it was a mistake to pass on Sam Darnold with the No. 2 pick last year. I'd rather have Darnold than anybody they're going to see at Pick No. 6 this year, but it's borderline irresponsible to not come away with a QB when you have an aging veteran and you've had two top-10 picks to address that need.
Gettleman did trade away a rare talent at receiver in Odell Beckham Jr., but he's made efforts to bolster the offensive line last offseason (signing Nate Solder and drafting Will Hernandez) and again in recent weeks (trading for Kevin Zeitler), which is crucial for whoever is playing quarterback for this franchise to be successful. Haskins is accurate, smart and he's a distributor. I think he'd function well in this offense.
Here's the thing: I no longer believe "this makes sense!" is reason enough to believe a team will make the correct decision.
I do think the Giants would be absolutely insane to pass on Haskins and would love to assume these reports are a clever ruse on the part of New York, but the last time I thought a report was too stupid to be true was Arizona selecting Kyler Murray with the No. 1 overall pick, and that's looking more accurate by the day.
"There's no way they'd be that dumb" just isn't an argument that holds up for every team. And I think the Giants are certainly on that list.
THE PARRIS CAMPBELL POSITION. Parris Campbell is a freak athlete looking for an offense willing to adapt to his playmaking ability.
I am not saying Campbell is Tyreek Hill, but that's the type of role I'd want for him Year 1. Reid and the Chiefs did a great job getting Hill touches as a receiver, returner and even runner. Kind of like how Percy Harvin was early on, too.
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 18, 2019
I've been saying this about Campbell for years. I've always believed he can absolutely thrive in the NFL, but I also think he's one of those players that is going to have to have the offense designed around him, in a way. Whoever drafts him is going to have to find ways to unleash his athleticism and get him the ball in space instead of just tossing him at a wide receiver position and trying to plug him into their offense as-is.
My worry has always been that he's selected so late in the draft that there's no financial incentive for teams to adjust their offensive scheme for him. But with his showing at the combine and his current projection as a late first round or early second round guy, I think there's a good chance that's going to happen. Whoever gets him isn't going to just waste his ability.
WATCHING AND WAITING. Despite all the Internet chatter the past few weeks, it turns out Buckeye fans did care about Ohio State's NCAA Tournament fate after all.
Sunday's March Madness selection show on CBS had its highest rating in five years.
And Columbus was the No. 2 market. pic.twitter.com/MR3OfRcyx4
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) March 18, 2019
I don't think there's any question that Columbus is a football town, and I think Chris Holtmann totally gets that (evidenced by him showing up to a post-game presser in an Archie Griffin jersey ahead of the Michigan game). But I also don't think these things always have to be mutually exclusive.
I want football titles. I want basketball titles. One happens in the winter, the other in spring. Give me both. I have time for both. I will have both.
Side note: Kudos to CBS for pumping out the entire bracket in 30 minutes after last year's debacle. They could have done the same thing again and endured another social media carpet bombing, but they listened to the people and gave us the product we wanted.
CLUB TRILLION SCHOLARSHIP. I've already respected the hell out of Mark Titus for about a million reasons, but now I can add one more.
Thrilled to announce the Club Trillion Foundation site is live. We're awarding a scholarship to a walk-on at the 2020 Final Four, but we need your help - money, spreading the word, applying for stuff. It's a group effort and we want you to be a part of it.https://t.co/RiAjGNrXca
— Mark Titus (@clubtrillion) March 18, 2019
The scholarship and foundation is aimed at helping walk-ons, who Titus explains, have been largely forgotten, especially in the whole pay-for-play debate.
Like every scholarship player, walk-ons are not paid and are forbidden from profiting off of their own likeness, yet commit a ton of year-long time to the program, meaning a part-time job is usually out of the question. The big difference though, is that in addition, walk-ons also have to pay their own way through school.
Titus wants to do what he can to help some of those folks out, and he tells a bit of his own story to explain why.
During my four years at Ohio State, I won two Big Ten regular season championships, two Big Ten tournament championships, made it to the 2007 national title game, and graduated as the program’s all-time winningest player. Now, none of this has anything to do with what I want to address here, but it’s something I try to remind people of every day, so I figured I’d just get it out of the way at the top. (While I have you, I can also still dunk a basketball. Please hold your applause until the very end.)
What I do want to talk about, though, is my overall experience as a walk-on, which can best be described as jackassery of the highest order. I constantly pranked All-American teammates, I skipped every single voluntary workout presented to me, and I even once refused to get off the bench when my coach, Thad Matta, told me to enter a game. I was lucky to be a part of some great teams at Ohio State, but I was a million times luckier to have a coach in Coach Matta who didn’t mind my behavior because … uhh … I’m still not quite sure, to be honest. Coach Matta could have kicked my ass off the team before the end of my first practice and nobody would have questioned his decision or even noticed it for that matter. Instead, he gave me the freedom to be myself, he always gave me the benefit of the doubt every time I pushed the envelope, and he even gave me a full-ride scholarship for two years.
The point is this: I’m fully aware that my walk-on experience was an anomaly. Walk-ons are supposed to be human punching bags that keep their mouths shut and stay out of the way. They’re not supposed to start blogs where they share stories from the locker room with the entire world. (As an aside: The name of the foundation is derived from my blog, Club Trillion, which in turn gets its name from the concept of the “trillion” – when basketball players play one minute and record no statistics, resulting in a box score that reads 1000000000000.) They’re not supposed to have articles written about them in the New York Times, they’re not supposed to have opposing student sections chanting their name, and they’re certainly not supposed to get book deals immediately after they graduate. I fell ass-backwards into a walk-on spot on Ohio State’s basketball team and, through a little gumption and a ton of luck, I have that opportunity to thank for my entire career, and by extension, the life I have today.
Titus' uh, "unique" experience and triumphs compelled him to want to help others, and I love that. The world is better when folks pay it forward. This foundation is literally going to change lives, and I think that's awesome.
If you'd like to donate to his cause, you can do so here.
MICHIGAN MADE IT TO 2019? After five years, Michigan appears to be finally joining modern college football.
This offseason, the Wolverines hired Josh Gattis from Alabama as their new offensive coordinator and he seems to be doing all of the things to bring Michigan into 2019, at least according to Jim Harbaugh.
From Aaron McMann of MLive.com:
“I think the biggest difference people will see is the tempo,” Harbaugh told reporters. “The temp is more up-tempo. Less huddle.”
“To Josh’s credit, he has done a fantastic -- phenomenal -- job of coming in and looking at our personnel, what we do well, what we did well, in both the run-game, the pass-game, the protections, and making it cohesive with his system,” Harbaugh said.
“Words are different, but some of the same amount of the way we do things. It’s blended really good.”
“We’re all working together, and definitely learning, too, his style of offense,” Harbaugh said. "Contributing where we can. He’s really good. He’s really good at explaining it and showing us how to coach it.
“How’s it been for me? It’s been really good. I’ve been really enjoying it. Really learning a lot.”
Harbaugh said the new offense will still use multiple personnel groups -- he referenced the fullback and tight ends during his news conference -- but has more of an “attacking” feel to it, emphasizing RPO. Michigan kicked off spring practice on Sunday, the first full day players could work with the coaching staff in place.
Mark me down as skeptical that a guy who had three scholarship fullbacks on his roster as early as last season is willing to go all-out tempo and spread, and even more skeptical that it will be successful if he actually tries to do it.
I have no doubts Gattis has the best of intentions here, and I think Michigan would be much better off with an offense that actually facilitates the ball to its best players instead of forcing it to the most average player on the roster 20 times a game.
Still, I give it until about game five before Jim gets confused and frustrated and demands 21 personnel from under center again.
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